The City boys will be on a high again following their second thrashing of Melbourne Victory this season and will be looking to take that confidence into their clash with fifth-place Macarthur FC.
The records tumbled again in City’s 7-0 Derby demolition job last Saturday, with Jamie Maclaren becoming just the second player in A-League history to score five goals in a game.
Macarthur are coming off an underwhelming 2-2 draw with the lowly Newcastle Jets, an encounter in which they dominated possession and peppered the opposition goalface but just couldn’t keep out a clinical Jets attacking force.
With no major team news heading into the game, here are the major talking points ahead of our first trip to Campbelltown:
Building a buffer
It took us three attempts, but City were finally able to ascend to the top of the A-League table following our big Melbourne Derby win.
A point ahead and still with a game in-hand, Saturday’s clash with Macarthur FC has to be viewed as a must-win by the team if we’re to start building a buffer on the chasing pack, with Central Coast, Adelaide United and even Sydney FC all likely fancying themselves as contenders.
The Mariners and Reds are each tied on 30 points from their 17 games played, whilst Sydney FC have 27 points from the same number of games. A City win against Macarthur would see us go four points clear at the top, a gap which would see us take an extremely promising position heading into the back end of the season.
Macarthur are finally falling back into the pack
After a strong start to the season that saw the A-League’s newest club carve itself a fairly consistent place in the league’s top three, Bulls fans may have been dreaming of a Wanderers-esque inaugural season Premier’s Plate.
However, following losses to Adelaide and Brisbane, and a draw with Newcastle, the team now finds itself in the unenviable position of being on a three-game winless run and being surrounded by teams with multiple games in-hand.
Macarthur’s 18 games played is the equal-most of any team in the league, with the likes of Western United and Brisbane hot on their (and Western Sydney’s) tail for a place in the top six.
Whether this makes the cornered Bulls a dangerous proposition or a team out-of-form and ready to be belted 3-0 again remains to be seen…
Time for Noone and Nabbout to start shining again
We’ll start with this disclaimer: Craig Noone and Andrew Nabbout are still two of the best wingers in the A-League this season.
Craig Noone has already hit double figures for goal contributions – something he’d only achieved twice in his career before arriving at City – and is likely to go past Aaron Mooy for most assists in Melbourne City history later this season.
Andrew Nabbout’s return to the side sparked our turnaround in form, with the winger boasting an incredible 2.55 points earned per game that he’s played in.
HOWEVER, the wide pair are unfortunate in that they’re being challenged for their starting positions by two of the league’s most exciting young prospects in Stefan Colakovski and Marco Tilio.
The youngsters have excelled recently, combining for six goal contributions in their collective 351 minutes, so Noone and Nabbout would do well to rediscover their exhilarating bests from that six-game winning streak, just in case PK decides he wants to start experimenting.